When the kids were younger, the number one thing I needed the most was a bit of time away. I needed to take a break and have a moment or two to myself. But those opportunities were pretty much nil. For one thing, I was worried about the boys being driven by someone else. It took almost a year for me to allow anyone else to give the boys a ride. My logic was that I was too fragile to handle another loss and if something bad was going to happen, it needed to happen to all us. Anyway, maybe I would have relented sooner if I'd had more offers for a break. But no one ever gave me any. And I didn't know then what I know now. I should have forced myself early on to take better care of myself and have some time away from the jobs of grieving, living, working, parenting, maintaining a home, on my own etc. I just took everything on myself and now I think I am paying a dear price.
I did give in once about a month after my husband's death. A mom from the boys' school whom I knew casually invited to take both along with her two sons to a Disney movie premire. I remember that it was early December and lightly snowing and I almost worried out of my mind that there would be an accident. That woman's offer and then her following through with it was one of the nicest favors I've received in widowhood. So may I pass on to anyone who may know a widow with or without kids. Take the kids out to give the mom/dad a break or offer to babysit. If there aren't any kids, offer to take the widow/widower out for an activity (not just food related). Anything to help break the routine and give these folks some kind of break.
I am trying to get away now for a few days with Sam and his son. But it is so trying to figure out the logistics of where the boys will stay and to regulate their scheules while I am away. It is almost not worth the trouble it is taking and my anxiety. Again, I wish I had somehow been able to make my going away more of a routine in the early days. I think that if I had forced myself to get away and treat myself I would be less drained and weary at this point. Yes, I would still be tired but I think that if I had made myself more of a priority I'd be less down and out in spirit. Now I feel like my sanity is hanging by a thread. My spirit is drained and depleted.
Being at home while the boys are out with their friends is not the same thing as getting away from the routine and having an opportunity to rest and relax. It is so refreshing to visit a new place or location be that local or long distance. I knew of a divorced woman in her mid-50s with two high school aged sons. She and her husband sold their big home and each moved into ranch homes in the same neighborhood so the kids could walk back and forth. Ex-husband had the boys every other weekend and I never tired of hearing what this woman did on her "free" weekends - I was fascinated and envious. There was a trip to Florida with girlfriends, another girlfriend trip antiquing and when she started dating, she and the new guyfriend would meet halfway from their homes at a nice hotel for the weekend. What I was most envious of was that this woman got to take off her mom hat for a few days and let down her hair. I know you never stop worrying about your kids but knowing that they are in safe hands with their father surely gave her enough peace of mind to enjoy the Florida beach and browsing in those antique stores. I think this woman was a better mom because of her time away and the me time she gave herself.
As much as I've wanted to "get away" the dynamics of my family and life haven't made it that realistic. I don't have family living in town and the boys were always so busy with their activities - no time off in summers due to travel baseball - and I always wanted to see them play too. And it has always been terribly hard for me to ask favors from people or family. So I haven't.
Maybe this issue is haunting me today because I feel a bit of resentment about my trip to Sam's. It is being billed as partly a mini vacation/time off for me but it is also to help Sam out since he'll have his son for a week and will be working. So I'm giving him and his son a hand so the poor kid doesn't have to stay home alone or go into work with Sam some of the time. So it's a win-win situation for everyone. And I know I should feel good about being to help someone out in need. But instead I am just feeling resentful about my helping out Sam who only sees his son 4 days out of the month except for vacation time. Here I've been responsible 24/7 for my sons the past 7 years without any kind of break. And with no help from anyone, no break, no one coming to my aid when I could have used a helping hand.
I guess that is the underlying anger. Feeling upset and neglected over the lack of support and help I've received over the years. And to know that those who are in less difficult situations do get the help, do get a break and do have an easier time of life.
I don't know what to do with these feelings of resentment right now. I think part of it comes from the cumulative effects of widowhood - the fatigue and weariness that just builds up over the years. The never having a break from the worrying of only parenting. I know there isn't anything I can do about the past and that I need to focus on changing the future. But regrets and resentments still build up and are triggered by events such as this. And then I have to deal with them. So I guess there needs to be balance over what has been without getting too hung up on it, while trying to remain hopeful and positive that the future will be better. Easier said than done.